The root of the question is almost always a plain stockinette scarf -- a rectangle of fabric made back and forth, knitting on one row, purling the next -- although sometimes the question arises from a lace scarf with a stockinette background. The problem is not the yarn, nor the technique--the problem is inherent in stockinette stitch itself. In other words, stockinette fabric rolls because that is its nature.
Knowing this after the fact, however, doesn't solve the problem when you've got a tightly curled piece of knitting in your hand--a piece which seems a useless disappointment.
It makes me sad to think of all the excitement of a first project turning to disappointment like this, so I've been knitting around and around until three different solutions have been worked out. Specifically, I've knit some stockinette scarves which curl like mad--three of them.
Over the next three posts,we're going to flatten each one of these and turn each into a lovely, wearable scarf. No longer do curled scarves have to be unraveled or put in a drawer: from now on, they can be reworked or corrected.
However, before we get to the rest of this series and show solutions which work, let's take a quick detour into solutions which don't work, or at least, which don't usually work very well.
Blocking, and why it doesn't work very well
Edging, and why it doesn't work very well
Another popular suggested cure is putting a non-curling edging onto the scarf. Seed stitch, moss stitch or garter stitch are often recommended. It is true that these fabrics do not curl (and are therefore an excellent choice for the next scarf!) However, the usual result from applying a non-curling edging to a curled scarf is that, although the edging itself does not curl, the scarf to which it is attached will continue to curl, taking the edging right along with it. There are ways to attach an edging so that the edging will not curl, but this kind of edging, called zig-zag edging, has to be knitted in, it cannot be applied after the fact.
Another species of edging often recommended is to crochet an edging onto the scarf. This also will not work for the same reason a knitted edging will not work: the crocheting itself does not curl, it is the knitting which curls, taking the crocheted edge right along with it.
In the next post of this series (drop columns, linky below) we'll flatten the curled-up sparkly blue scarf shown at left.
PS: This is part 1 of a 4 part series. The other parts are here:
part 2--drop columns
part 3--forming ribbing
part 4--lining the scarf